Credit: The Atlantic

Below, our favorite stories of the week.

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1. Is America Any Safer?

Steven Brill | The Atlantic | Aug. 9, 2016 | 73 minutes (18,294 words)

The U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion since 9/11 to protect our country and respond to acts of terrorism. Brill examines what we’ve done right, where we’ve gone wrong, and the number of security gaps we still need to fill.

2. ‘White Trash’ – The Original Underclass

Alec MacGillis | ProPublica | Aug. 5, 2016 | 22 minutes (5,715 words)

The United States’ long, bleak history of poor whites and their troubles can help us understand how we’ve arrived at our current moment of political and social unrest in this country.

3. The Devil Is Loose

Abe Streep | The California Sunday Magazine | August 2, 2016 | 20 minutes (5,060 words)

Between the drug trade, immigration, Border Patrol pursuits and poverty, paramedics in the border town of Laredo, Texas get little rest but lots of respect. Law requires medics treat anyone in need, so here among the cactus and mesquite, “Border Patrol agents get spit as a topping at a local takeout joint; paramedics get discounts.”

4. How To Plot A Novel

Staff | New York Magazine | August 12, 2016

In their “How to Plot a Novel” package this week, New York magazine explores the inner workings of fiction from every angle. Christian Lorentzen analyzes how story works and affects readers. Boris Kachka provides an encyclopedia of every possible kind of plot, a history of plot, and a piece about computer mapping of story plots. Bonuses: Sadie Stein on the worst endings in history, and a round-up of quotes from famous authors about where they stand on plot as a device.

5. Rise and Scam

Patrick D. McDermott | FADER | August 9, 2016 | 17 minutes (4,362 words)

At home with Branden Miller, the man behind Joanne The Scammer and “a funny-as-hell reminder to keep your guard up, to scam today before today scams you.”